Anyone who had read the book or seen the film ‘Jane Eyre’ knows the genius storyline of a poor orphan girl who falls in love with a rich mysterious man who has a mad woman locked up in his basement. This is what most Charlotte Brontë’s enthusiasts know about the author. There’s a lot more than that. For example, did you know Charlotte Brontë was shortsighted and couldn’t read in bright light? Maybe not. In this article, we’ll explore ten interesting personal facts about Charlotte Brontë you don’t already know.
Charlotte was the third child of the six Brontë children
Among the Brontë children, Charlotte was the third child only preceded by Elizabeth and Maria, while the only son Branwell, Emily, and Anne came after her. After the passing of Elizabeth and Maria, Charlotte became more involved with taking care of her younger siblings and would often act as a second mother or guardian to especially Emily and Anne. She showed this when she home-taught the pair and also allowed Emily to travel with her, serving as her guardian.
Her surname wasn’t Brontë
Charlotte’s father, Patrick, is said to have originally hailed from Ireland – from a poor farmer’s family with the name Brunty. However, he was a bright child and soon gained a scholarship to study at Cambridge, which prompted his decision to change his surname to Brontë to escape stereotypes that might come from his original surname which depicted poverty. Charlotte and her sisters inherited the name afterward.
As a child, she was shortsighted
Charlotte, from her early adulthood to death, suffered from mild myopia, a condition which is widely speculated she got from her father – who also had sight issues. It’s recounted that she usually couldn’t read under shining or bright lights and could see and read very well in darkness or dim surroundings. In her short stint as a teacher, her student taught she was doing a bit of magic when she read in the dark.
As an adult, she didn’t grow past four feet six inches
Someone who doesn’t know nor has read about Charlotte’s actual physical identity may find it difficult to picture the author as anything less than physical elegance, grace, and style. And this is because the author’s works are often filled with beautiful characters who are brought to life through her writing, so one might be mistaken to think Charlotte was perfect in both talent and looks. Yes, she had the former, but the latter somewhat eluded her, and she was willing to give it all for it.
She worked as a teacher but hated it
Around the mid-1930s, after attending Roe Head for two or three years, Charlotte returned to school to work as a teacher, then the time Emily was still a student there. Charlotte’s experience tutoring was one she enjoyed, and spoke out about how badly she hated the idea and how it wasn’t her calling.
While studying abroad, she became infatuated with her married teacher
Charlotte got romantically entangled with a man called Constantin Héger, who tutored her at a Brussels school. Héger was already married, and Charlotte knew about this; still, she couldn’t help herself. When she returned home to Haworth, she sent him several letters professing her affection for him, but he was furious about it and never wrote her back.
Her Father doubted her abilities
The norm of the society in which Charlotte lived believed women were not made to become writers, nor was anything they wrote ever good or pleasing to be read. Charlotte’s father, Patrick, didn’t hold a different view from this and never in his wildest dream thought any of his daughters would take to pen. He was in surprise and disbelief when Charlotte broke the news to him that she had written a book. After much chiding of her, Patrick managed to read his daughter’s book and liked it.
She was rejected by all the publishers on her list
Rejection is the much-hated torment every author unavoidably experiences at one point in their career or another (but usually at the start of their career). And there was Charlotte, already finished writing ‘The Professor,’ her first novel. She curated a list of all the publishers she knew in and around her city and approached every one of them with the hope of being published. She never did publish the book, at least not until after her death that it got posthumously published.
She turned down a few marriage proposals
Even though Charlotte wasn’t the most elegant woman in her time in terms of the best female physique in vogue, she had her fair share of turning down several hands who sought her in marriage – including one of her friend’s brothers.
Her eventual marriage wasn’t approved by her father
Charlotte was so selective that she left it late before finally tying the knot. At 38 years old, she gave in to Arthur Bell Nicolls and decided to accept the proposal after previously rejecting him. Because Arthur was under his father and was a peasant preacher – who couldn’t guarantee to meet Charlotte’s needs, her father objected to the plan and didn’t support it. Later, it seemed like they had settled their differences and that Patrick had agreed to give his daughter out. But Patrick refused to show up at the wedding, and Charlotte was given away at the altar by a family friend.
Was Charlotte Brontë married?
Charlotte Brontë got married to Arthur Bell Nicolls, an assistant pastor to her father, Patrick – who didn’t support the union.
What was Charlotte Brontë’s relationship with Constantin Héger?
The pair’s relationship was strictly that of teacher and student, given that Héger taught Charlotte in his school – even though at some point, she developed romantic thoughts with him (Héger).
Is ‘Jane Eyre’ Charlotte Brontë’s first novel?
‘Jane Eyre’ maybe Charlotte Brontë’s most famed novel and the first to be published, but Charlotte Brontë’s ‘The Professor’ is the very novel she wrote but saw a delayed publication.